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Author encourages birding for new audiences

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John C. Robinson

Published on: Feb. 25, 2011

KANSAS CITY Mo -- People of all ethnic backgrounds should be encouraged to enjoy nature and outdoor activities such as bird watching, says John C. Robinson, a noted California ornithologist and author.

Robinson will discuss his book, “Birding for Everyone, Encouraging People of Color to Become Birdwatchers,” from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 1, at the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center, 4750 Troost Ave. in Kansas City.

He will share his 10 secrets to becoming a better birder and the importance of mentorship to foster an appreciation for wildlife in new audiences. The event is free and enjoyable for all ages. A book signing and reception will follow the program.

Robinson grew up in an urban setting in Pittsburg, Pa. But in sixth grade he read Jack London’s book, “Call of the Wild,” and it started his interest in wildlife. A college course in ornithology ignited his passion for the diversity and beauty in the bird world.

“I’ve been studying birds ever since,” he said.

Robinson has worked as a bird expert for federal wildlife agencies and now has his own ornithology consulting firm, “On My Mountain.” People have often remarked to him that they had never met an African-American birder before.

“That happened so many times,” Robinson said, “I began to ask myself why.”

Inner city youths don’t always get encouraged at home or at school to explore the outdoors and learn about nature, he said.

“Often, the parents, teachers and community leaders are not providing the opportunity and encouraging that this is an option,” Robinson said.

Mentors and role models by people of color are needed to teach birding and an appreciation for nature, he said.

“I think there’s a lot of spiritual growth that goes on inside a person when you have that connection,” Robinson said.

This program was originally scheduled for Feb. 1, but winter weather forced a rescheduling to March 1. For more information, call 816-759-7300.

The event is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation, Missouri Master Naturalist Osage Trails Chapter, Burroughs Audubon Society and the Friends and Family of Dr. Daniel Stern.

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